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Korea developed the low orbit earth observation multipurpose satellites Arirang 1 and 2 and launched them in 1999 and 2006, respectively.
The Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 1 was jointly developed with a US-based enterprise as Korea had no experience of developing a multipurpose satellite at that time. However, the development of Arirang 2 was led by Korean scientists and engineers based on the experience of developing Arirang 1. The development of the Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 2 enabled Korea to achieve a rate of self-sufficiency of 91.5% in satellite design and 65.2% in the fabrication of satellite parts. Korea also became the seventh country in the world to possess a 1m-class high-resolution satellite. It is significant that it was achieved in only around ten years after the country began the development of a satellite.
The foundations for independent satellite technology attained through the development of Arirang 1 and 2 led to the development of Arirang 3, which is capable of 70cm resolution optical observation, Arirang 5, which is equipped with imaging radar, and Arirang 3A, which is capable of 55cm resolution optical and IR observation.
Except for some parts, the design, assembly and testing of Korea Multi-Purpose Satellites Arirang 3, 5 and 3A were all conducted in Korea. For Arirang 3A, the domestic industry took full responsibility for the development of the main body as part of technology transfer for expanding the industrial base in Korea.
Currently, Arirang 3, 5 and 3A are being operated on a mutual support basis in order to satisfy the national satellite utilization requirement and to assist the development of key technologies for the utilization of satellite data in the private sector and promotion of the satellite industry.
01Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite (Arirang) 6
Scheduled for launch in 2019, the Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 6 will be equipped with the SAR developed and manufactured in cooperation with the domestic industry.
Arirang 6 will be mounted with an SAR with 0.5m-class resolution, a fourfold improvement compared to the 1m resolution of the first SAR mounted in Arirang 5.
02Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite (Arirang) 3A
The Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 3A is an earth observation satellite equipped with a 55cm class high-resolution EOC and Korea's first IR sensor.
The high-resolution electronic optical camera AEISS-A (Advanced Earth Imaging System-A) developed with Korean technology and mounted on Arirang 3A features 55cm class optical photography, which is the highest resolution among cameras mounted on domestic satellites. The IR sensor, which is capable of detecting heat on the ground, is used to observe fire, volcanic activity and urban thermal islands during day and also nighttime.
Arirang 3A operates in the sun’s synchronous orbit at an altitude of 528km and passes over Korea twice (day and night), photographing the Korean Peninsula for up to 50 minutes each day.
The main body of Arirang 3A was developed by a private enterprise, while KARI transferred the technology to expand the domestic satellite industrial base.
03Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite (Arirang) 5
The Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 5 is an earth observation satellite equipped with Korea's first all-weather SAR.
The SAR mounted on Arirang 5 emits microwaves to an object on the ground and synthesizes the reflected signal to produce an image. It enables ground observation even during nighttime and poor weather conditions.
As the SAR image can supplement the optical camera, which can record only the visible light spectrum, it is utilized in mutual supplementary operations with the high-resolution optical images of Arirang 3 and 3A.
Arirang 5 observes the Korean Peninsula four times a day. The transmitted image data are used for public safety, natural disaster forecasts, land/resource management and environmental monitoring.
04Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite (Arirang) 3
The Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 3 is a high-resolution earth observation satellite equipped with a sub-meter class EOC.
The satellite body and parts of Arirang 3 were not only developed in Korea but also designed, assembled and tested in Korea. In addition, Korea's first sub-meter class optical payload, with an observation capability of 1m or less resolution, was developed with Korean technology, thus enabling Korea to achieve world-class optical payload development capability.
Arirang 3 circles the planet around fifteen times each day in the earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of 685 km.
05Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite (Arirang) 2
The Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 2 is an earth observation satellite equipped with a 1m high-resolution multi-spectra camera. It was converted to a research satellite in October 2015 after successfully carrying out its mission for nine years.
Arirang 2 played the key role in expanding national satellite image assets by transmitting around 75,400 pictures of Korea and 2.448 million pictures of the world. The import-substitution effect of satellite images is estimated to be around KRW 532.3 billion, which is more than twice the cost of developing the satellite.
The development of Arirang 2 gave Korea the opportunity to attain the capability to independently design, fabricate, assemble and test t satellites. In addition, Korea became the seventh country in the world to possesse a satellite equipped with a 1m high-resolution MSC.
Arirang 2 will be used in the research and development of next-generation satellite technologies such as orbit change and image quality testing until its life expires due to loss of communication, etc.
06Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite (Arirang) 1
The mission of Korea's first multipurpose satellite Arirang 1 was terminated in January 2008 eight years after its launch.
The Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite Arirang 1 circled the earth 43,000 times at an altitude of 685 km during its mission and photographed and transmitted around 47,000 satellite images to Korea.
Historically, Arirang 1 is regarded as having laid the foundations for Korea's independent satellite technology. Its joint development with a foreign agency began in 1994 when Korea had no experience of developing multipurpose satellites, and the satellite was successfully launched in 1999. The experience presented an opportunity for Korea to accumulate the technology required to be able to develop the body of Arirang 2 independently.